- The Washington Times - Thursday, June 26, 2003

HAVANA — An American woman who sought Fidel Castro’s help in getting her son and daughter back from her ex-husband was reunited with the U.S.-born children after authorities arrested their father, the mother’s attorney said yesterday.

Cornelia Streeter was reunited with her children Wednesday night after a separation of nearly two years, attorney Barry Pollack said from Boston.

Mrs. Streeter “is extremely appreciative of the prompt, sensitive and effective way that the Cuban authorities have handled this matter,” Mr. Pollack said.

The Massachusetts woman and her children were at an undisclosed location in Havana yesterday.

In a case that recalled the battle over young castaway Elian Gonzalez, state-run television reported late Wednesday that authorities took action after confirming that Mrs. Streeter had sole custody of the children. U.S. court records identified them as Henry, 9, and Victoria, 7, but Cuban authorities listed them each as one year older.

The report said the children were born during Mrs. Streeter’s marriage to Anwar Wissa.

American authorities here said they knew about the case and were working to determine the facts. They said they had not communicated with the mother.

Mrs. Streeter made her appeal in a letter, which was delivered to the Cuban president by a “friend of our commander in chief,” said the government statement read on the nightly news broadcast.

The children were located at a Havana marina, where Mr. Wissa was staying with them on a yacht, the statement said. Mr. Wissa, also an American citizen, was arrested.

The statement said Cubans remain mindful of the Elian Gonzalez case and the support most Americans showed for the child’s return to his father in Cuba.

“For that, we owe the American people our gratitude and respect,” the statement said.

The Cuban statement said an investigation showed that Mrs. Streeter and Mr. Wissa initially had joint custody after they divorced two years ago, but Mrs. Streeter later was granted sole custody.

The statement said Mr. Wissa faces charges for kidnapping the children.

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